Winter Comforts

Our first snow in the city was this weekend. Satori’s cabin is as comfortable as a winter ski hut. It’s calm, the diesel stove is keeping the air dry and the cabin warm. The heat is transferred into the hot water tank, where right now the water is at a constant one hundred twenty degrees, just the same as the electric element heating the water. A low voltage computer fan sits above the stove and moves the warm air across into the settee. It’s wired to a switch and shares the same power as the bluetooth speaker, which is playing tunes from my iPhone. Tea is on top of the stove, keeping warm until I fill up another mug of Hojicha to sip while working on the canvas weather cloths. I will probably clean out the mildew in one of the unused lockers or apply some teak oil to another part of the boat. It’s winter now but projects have not slowed down. There is more time to dedicate to making the interior comfortable, organized and livable. That’s why I’m here instead of living in a house. It’s peaceful, I can focus and learn how to live on Sarori comfortably.

Computer fan circulates warm air from the Dickinson Stove
Computer fan circulates warm air from the Dickinson Stove

Some other things on the infinite list I was able to complete recently were to swap out the fluorescent bulbs in the bathroom for LED replacements. I was able to find a flourescent tube replacement that uses the same mounts but is powered using the ballast switch. I should be able to recoup the cost in about two years and should also last about ten years. The lights take about half of the energy as the bulbs and seem about twice as bright. This is a major improvement to having to stock ten years worth of bulbs.

Starlights T8-18 18-Inch Fluorescent Tube
Starlights T8-18 18-Inch Fluorescent Tube

I also bought a couple of sets of RGB LED strips to install into the forward berth and settee. The adhesive strips and adjustable range of lighting makes this application perfect for boats. Depending on the level of intensity and color you choose, you can draw as little as .3 amps or as much as one amp. The package comes with a remote with a bunch of different options like strobe, color fade, etc. but also allows you to choose white, red, green, blue and different color variances but also the brightness. The mounting is pretty easy since the system is 12 volt with a 110 volt adapter. You just need to cut the cable and wire it to a 12 volt lighting outlet, peel the adhesive backing and place the strip in a non-invasive location. Somewhere that provides ambient lighting is better than somewhere that causes you to stare straight at the lights. They can be intense so it’s better to place them facing downward and around a perimeter than say facing outward and at eye level. Once the strip is mounted, you can cut any remaining length off. The previous light in the forward berth side above the bed was another small fluorescent light and ballast, which was prone to being in the way and making contact with my head on occasion. Mounting something that cleared the area overhead is a major improvement on comfort since I not only no longer hit my head on a sharp corner due to confined spaces but also have some cool lights to create different effects inside the cabin. I will mount another strip inside of the settee once I decide how to wire from the light panel and make sure they create the proper effect. Each set cost me $30, which would be the cheapest I could get a new fixture at a marine hardware store, made of plastic and probably using xenon bulbs. I’m pretty happy with this improvement.

 TaoTronics TT-SL001 Waterproof RGB LED Strip
TaoTronics TT-SL001 Waterproof RGB LED Strip
Forward berth LED light strip on low setting
Forward berth LED light strip on low setting
Forward berth LED light strip on high setting
Forward berth LED light strip on high setting

From my last post on the hot water coil and stove rebuild, I wanted to follow up and post some useful information about how things are going. When I decided to rebuild the stove and install the hot water coil to heat the hot water tank I had no idea what the system would produce. Would the water temperature be too great or would it never reach a suitable temperature for showering, washing dishes and providing warm air for the forced air heater in the forward berth? Well so far it has proven to be just about perfect. This correlated to a setting of #4 on the fuel regulator and also turning the fan on the stove to #2 for the maximum temperature setting. I wouldn’t usually run it this hot but I needed to see the results of a lean system. The cabin temperature reached 84 degrees Fahrenheit, the hot water tank reached 160 degrees and the glycol in the loop to heat the hot water tank has reached 200 degrees. Last night I decided to tone it down a bit and set the stove to about twenty degrees cooler, which is still plenty warm. The cabin was 75 degrees when I woke up, with an outside temperature in the low 40’s. The glycol loop was 190 degrees and the hot water tank was 170 degrees. The great part of this system is how easy it is to cool down the tank and glycol, by simply turning on the circulation loop for the hot water and turning on the forced air heater in the forward berth. Within ten minutes the hot water temperature dropped to 140 degrees and warmed up the forward berth to dry it out from sleeping in it overnight. The humidity inside of the cabin averaged about 35%, which is plenty dry for a boat in the water moored in the Pacific Northwest. The stove seems to work much more efficiently and so far the only issue I need to resolve is when I shut down the stove, the fuel regulator will be shut off but will also allow some flow of fuel into the pot over several hours. It’s not really an issue because I have a ball valve in the fuel line that will prevent any flow from reaching the regulator but this also means having to shut off the supply instead of simply turning off the regulator. Otherwise, I am really pleased with how the rebuild has made life much more comfortable while living aboard during the winter.

A few weeks ago I had part of the settee table break on me so I decided to glue it back together and add some reinforcement using a chainplate. I suspect gluing it back together will only last so long until it breaks at the seam again and I love the table setup. It’s solid wood and when oiled is a great surface to work and eat on. Not only did I fix the support but I also fixed a hinge that will add more strength to the folding leaf and prevent any risk from accidentally breaking the table again. Just another thing to fix to prevent more wear and tear on the original components that were made to fit.

Table leaf support with reinforcement
Table leaf support with reinforcement

Beginning in a couple of weeks I will be removing the staysail boom and adding a roller furling system for the headsail and tracks for the staysail. A new staysail plan has been finalized and construction began today. The new foresail will start construction in January after the furling system is installed. I also hope to install a new battery bank and raw water pump for the engine so by March I can start sailing again. Until then Satori will stay at her dock and out of commission. These upgrades will be major improvements for cruising around the Salish and then the final projects will hopefully be completed in time to take Satori offshore in August. It’s a tentative plan and only budget and my available time will be the deciding factors of hitting the mark. The final offshore components are really expensive but also vital components that cannot be left behind. If I need to postpone another year then so be it. I don’t have a sufficient battery bank and renewable charging system, no liferaft, no storm equipment, no SSB, no radar and no cruising kitty yet. The mast should be taken down, rewired and new lights and wind anemometer installed before leaving land. I also need to do some hull repair and replace some seacocks so I have more access to strained raw water for spraying down the topsides, using it for doing dishes, for making freshwater once the water maker is installed and finally to ensure that the engine is getting enough flow to cool itself down. These are the major upgrades and once they are completed I can finally release the dock lines. Now that I’m looking at this list, it does not seem nearly as impossible as it did in December last year. Satori has already had some major upgrades and so there is an end in sight.

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